Boro to face Cruzeiro, Baltimore Celtic, USA U17s and Queretaro in star-studded youth cup
Final preparations are now underway for the Stevenage U18s trip to the prestigious IMG Cup in Florida next week.
Held from 18th-22nd December and located at the world-renowned IMG Academy in Bradenton, the five day tournament will allow Boro’s youngsters to use some of the best facilities going and play against some of the hottest talents in the world.
After leaving next Sunday 15th and spending a couple of days acclimatising and training there, our boys will face four games in five days against eye-catching opposition.
On 18th December they’ll play Brazilian side Cruzeiro, followed in the coming days by the USA U17 national team, Baltimore Celtic and Mexican outfit Queretaro, before returning home in time for Christmas.
With squads limited to 18 in number and the games coming thick and fast, Head of Youth Darren Sarll knows their routine will pretty much be play, recover, eat, sleep.
He told us, “The IMG Academy is one of the most exclusive locations in the world and is on a par, if not better than the facilities we have in the UK such as Loughborough University, Liverpool John Moores or St Georges Park.
“Our boys will be co-existing with some of the best young players in the world and that exposure to elitism and international standards is something which is bound to have a positive effect. It’ll be busy though and a massive challenge to the boys.
"We’ll try and stick to something of a normal routine whilst we acclimatise but then the games around quickly. The great benefit to us is that we’ll have access to all the facilities the IMG Academy has to help us recover, such as various swimming pools and medical facilities."
With the team set to face high-calibre opposition, Darren knows his team will have to adapt their playing style accordingly whilst they're away, telling us, "As coaches we’ve got to sit down and decide how we play out there. If we go out and play in the same manner that we do out here, it could be a bit of a hiding. We’ll be thinking about tactical changes and strategies that I learnt from my experience of going to Brazil aged 18 with my youth team, where I was exposed to their culture and upbringing during a tour.
"We’ll have to change and adapt. What is needed here on a freezing morning on a bobbly pitch at, say, Gillingham won’t be much good out there!
“It’ll be an experience of a lifetime for these boys and I know they can’t wait to go.”
Stevenage U18s fixtures
Wednesday 18th December - Cruzeiro - 11am (4pm UK time)
Thursday 19th December - USA U17s - 7.30pm (12.30am UK time on Friday 20th)
Saturday 21st December - Baltimore Celtic - 10am - (3pm UK time)
Sunday 22nd December - Querataro - 8am - (1pm UK time)
Watch them live
The tournament organisers are hoping to live stream all matches from the Super Group (Boro's group) online. Watch out for further details of this in the coming week.